Diversity Mark Signatory Roundtable Event ‘Gender Balance in STEM’

Thank you to everyone that attended our recent roundtable event ‘Gender Balance in STEM’. This event gave attendees the opportunity to connect with peers from other organisations and sectors, and share ideas, challenges and good practice around achieving gender balance in the STEM sector.

Diversity Mark signatories attending ‘Gender Balance in STEM’

During the session, signatories completed a poll advising the main challenges for them to achieving gender balance within their organisation. The top three barriers were listed as:

  • Talent Pipeline -so few women interested in applying

  • Girls not studying the relevant subjects/degree not suitable

  • Male dominated environment

The great news is that we are moving the dial within STEM. Looking collectively at four IT companies that joined us in the early days, Liberty IT, Allstate NI, Learning Pool and Outsource Solutions they have jointly increased their female workforce by 27% overall and by 30% specifically in senior management positions. All four companies have grown collectively by 401 employees since they joined Diversity Mark with 47% of all new hires being female, tipping the overall gender balance collectively in favour of women by 3%.

Thank you to Frank Fleming from the Equality Commission NI for his offer to help with policies, culture audits and training. Please CLICK HERE to find out more.

Attendees came away from the session with a list of over twenty practical tips, strategies and initiatives to review and implement where possible within their organisations.

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

80,000 Employees To Gain Greater Inclusivity

We are delighted to announce that we recently reached a significant milestone with organisations signed up, working towards achieving and maintaining the Diversity Mark representing over 80,000 employees, with almost 40% of those companies based within the STEM sector.

Four of NI’s leading IT firms – Allstate, Learning Pool, Liberty IT and Outsource – have been accredited through Diversity Mark for over 2 years, and in that time have jointly increased their female workforce by 27% overall and by 30% specifically in senior management positions. All four companies have grown collectively by 401 employees since they joined Diversity Mark with 47% of all new hires being female, tipping the overall gender balance collectively in favour of women by 3%.

Launched in 2017 by Women in Business, Diversity Mark are now the leading authority in Diversity in the UK & Ireland and the accreditation recognises an organisation’s commitment to embracing diversity and creating an inclusive culture for all staff.

A McKinsey report published last year found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies.

Terry Moore – CEO of Outsource, Nichola Robinson – Director of Strategic Sourcing at Spirit AeroSystems and Diversity Mark Chair, Paul McElvaney – Group CEO of Learning Pool, John Healy OBE- Vice President and Managing Director of Allstate NI, Christine White – Head of Business at Diversity Mark and Willie Hamilton – Managing Director of Liberty IT.

Christine White, Head of Business at Diversity Mark, said: “We are delighted to have reached this landmark milestone representing 80,000 employees. At Diversity Mark it is our mission to platform issues around inclusivity in the workplace and create equal opportunities for all. It is well known that having a diverse workforce can unlock greater innovation within a company, driving its performance and success. We look forward to further progressing in 2022 and are delighted to work with organisations new and old throughout the UK & Ireland as they continue their exciting journeys towards greater diversity.”

John Healy OBE, Vice President and Managing Director at Allstate NI, said: “Diversity is central to everything we do, and it’s needed now more than ever in the IT sector. As the first company in Northern Ireland to receive the Silver Diversity Mark, Allstate are committed to be the catalyst for change.

“In a sector where females are underrepresented, I am delighted to see the progress Allstate and the other companies have made to address this. The frameworks and resources provided by the Diversity Mark team have been invaluable in helping us to set goals, track performance and benchmark against other organisations. Allstate’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion will help drive change and attract more females to join the IT sector.”

Paul McElvaney, Group CEO of Learning Pool, said: “Our strong commitment to diversity benefits our entire company. We recently ranked as the top indigenous company in Northern Ireland to work for, and part of this success can be attributed to our dedication to inclusion.

“Diversity Mark’s accreditation programme has helped build on this ongoing commitment to maintain an inclusive culture. We’ve made significant investments in building a flexible workplace and nurturing a culture where everyone has equal opportunity to achieve their potential in terms of career growth, pay fairness, and skill building. In the current climate, it’s more important than ever to foster this kind of experience, where people feel valued and have a voice in what they do.”

Willie Hamilton, Managing Director at Liberty IT, said: “Partnering with Diversity Mark NI to achieve our accreditation has played a key role in pushing us even further in our DEI journey. We’re growing our teams and continuing to bring diversity of talent into our organisation is critical to this.

“We’re seeing improvements in gender balance across all job families including the Executive Team, and our Women in Tech Employee Resource Group have launched mentoring circles and a buddy programme, and our Talent team have introduced coaching and toolkits to support parents and those returning from a period of leave. Our DEI Council has just been established and I am excited to partner with this group to evolve DEI even further across Liberty IT.

Terry Moore, Founder and CEO of Outsource, said: “At Outsource we have always prided ourselves on our commitment to diversity, inclusion and the general wellbeing of our staff, our participation in the Diversity Mark accreditation journey has undoubtedly accelerated and placed more structure on the senior management team’s implementation efforts.

“With the support of the Diversity Mark team, Outsource are proud to be the only Managed Service and Security Provider in NI to have been awarded the Bronze Diversity Mark but as importantly we genuinely believe that this commitment to diversity and inclusion is and will continue to be a major advantage to us as we progress with our plans for Outsource and our ground-breaking OSG Cloud solution to grow nationally and internationally. For any company that genuinely wants to grow or attract the best candidates the Diversity Mark is a fantastic way to show you are a genuinely inclusive and welcoming place to work, where skills and talents from all sections of the workforce are actively encouraged and welcome.”

To learn more about Diversity Mark Accreditations please click here.

To sign up to become a Diversity Mark Signatory please click here.

Catalyst Champion Diversity and Inclusion within the STEM sector

Catalyst is an independent, not-for-profit organisation which supports the growth of the knowledge economy in Northern Ireland through innovation, research, training, and development activity. The entrepreneurial eco-system created by the team is home to many STEM sector businesses.


Catalyst started their Diversity and Inclusion journey in 2018 and hold the Bronze Diversity Mark which has positively impacted upon their workforce.

Director of HR Shauna Collins gives us an insight to their Diversity and Inclusion journey thus far:

At Catalyst we are aware of the positive outcomes that can be achieved by bringing together diverse groups of people.  We not only want to foster and empower a culture of innovation, but also an environment where people can be their true, authentic self and thrive. Recognising the need to ensure that the principles of equality and diversity are practiced for the benefit of our staff and community alike was a key driver for joining the Diversity Mark accreditation programme.

After the highs of achieving our Bronze status in February 2020, we were very quickly thrust into the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been our biggest challenge, as like many others, we had to navigate our business through the crisis. However, as we embraced online collaboration and work practices, we were able to make progress on our Diversity and Inclusion targets in a more virtual world.  Our targets included objectives to better understand our gender makeup and assess whether any gender barriers existed within our recruitment processes.”

Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Organisational Culture

Catalyst recruited an Executive Team member to champion the Diversity and Inclusion agenda and ensure it is heard and addressed at the most senior levels within the organisation. Diversity and Inclusion is a regular topic of discussion at monthly board meetings. Relevant information and statistics are collated and presented to the board and used to inform strategic decisions including recruitment strategies.

In order to attract a more diverse pool of talent Catalyst needed to understand their recruitment trends. Analysis of application information from previous recruitment campaigns enabled the team to create a baseline, and critically review recruitment campaigns to ensure that they were gender neutral, with no barriers to application. Gender-neutral panels were put in place and staff members completed recruitment and selection training with a wider employee pool.

A review of Non-Executive recruitment was also completed, leading to the creation of a briefing document explicitly stating that the organisation welcomes applications from female applicants, who were underrepresented at Board level. Catalyst is delighted to have welcomed their first ever female Chair, hired based on merit, and fit for the role, regardless of gender.

Following improvements to Catalyst’s recruitment processes, the team continue to monitor processes to ensure that the increase of female applications continues. Using the learnings from recruitment research, the team plan to conduct further research into programme applications to ensure any learnings are shared.

In addition, members of the Catalyst team have attended events hosted by Diversity Mark, and participated in Unconscious Bias Training, and Diversity and Inclusion e-learning programmes. This has helped employees to enhance their knowledge of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion and implement best practice solutions within the work environment.

Catalyst CEO Steve Orr commented

“We are proud to be recognised by the Diversity Mark and it stands as a testament to our workplace philosophy where diversity is acknowledged and celebrated as a fundamental component of our culture.”

The team at Diversity Mark are excited about continuing to support Catalyst on their journey and sharing in their continued progress over the coming years.

Find out more about joining the Diversity Mark Accreditation programme.